Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 16: Snow Creek to Whitewater Preserve

Today was a real low point in our hike...literally. Within a few short minutes after we started hiking, the trail dipped to 1,188 feet, the lowest point on the trail prior to the Columbia Gorge on the Oregon/Washington border.

Following the trail through the desert divide felt like walking on the beach. With every step our feet sank into the heavy, loose sand. Sand filled my shoes like water, pouring in through every tiny hole in the loose weave of my lightweight mesh trail runners until I felt like I was walking on small, uneven sand bars. When I finally stopped to empty my shoes, over 1/8 cup of sand spilled out of each one.

Although the trail was hot and sandy, cheerful yellow flowers on the creosote bushes and occasional clusters of bright purple sand verbena flowers broke up the monotony of the sand and shrubs. And hidden in the shade of the I-10 overpass, we discovered several coolers full of sodas and cold drinks, left by generous "trail angels" to provide hikers with much appreciated refreshment. We also met the Bear, a local trail angel who, with his wife Ziggy, hosts hikers at his home.

My father was able to meet us for lunch at one of several road crossings. After lunch we began climbing up Gold Canyon behind the Mesa Wind Park (a windmill farm). The windmills on the ridge were spinning, filling the air with ghostly humming and whistling sounds. But the air in the canyon was hot and stagnant, and the temperature was rising. Even the cold drink I had placed in my pack earlier was now the temperature of warm tea. I drank it anyway, grateful to have liquid at any temperature.

Dropping into Teutang Canyon, we were relieved to have an occasional cool breeze, making the remaining miles to Whitewater Canyon pass quickly.

We are now camped at the Wildlands Conservancy Whitewater Preserve, a beautiful oasis in the desert a short half mile from the PCT. The preserve generously invites hikers to camp in their grassy picnic area, with shade trees, picnic tables, drinking water, and restrooms. Tonight when we arrived, Warner Springs Monty was dishing up trail magic for PCT hikers, courtesy of Lake to Lake: a delicious meal consisting of vegetable pasta, salad, fresh oranges and other fruit, brownies, cookies, and cold drinks!

After dinner, we set up our tent in the grassy picnic area and enjoyed the night sounds: the gurgle of the creek, the whoosh of the cool night breezes, the croaks of the frogs, and the hum of the bats wings as they swooped around our camping area scooping up insects.

1 comment:

  1. This is my favorite stretch of country that I-10 goes through! The desert with that beautiful mountain backdrop is just the coolest place to see the landscape changes. I remember my mom always waking us up to see the windmills, but the mountains rising out of the flat ground were always my favorite! I can't wait to get to hike there myself someday.